Sun, Jan. 26

1875: FIRST FAMILIES; James G. Davidson Family, August 23.

James Gordon Davidson was born in Tennessee on November 22, 1829. His parents and their 2 children moved to Missouri after 1832. The Davidson family "settled near Springfield, in the southern part of the state." James Davidson "went to California in 1850, remained in the Golden State four years, made some money and returned to Missouri, got married, bought a farm in Cedar County and lived there until the breaking out of the rebellion." (Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner; Prescott; February 10, 1892; page 3.)

James Davidson married Elizabeth Jane Roberts on Sunday, February 19, 1860, in Cedar County, Missouri. They lived with his widowed mother, Hettie C. (Francis) Davidson and her teenage sons William and Thomas. (

James G. Davidson "served in the state militia, then he enlisted in the 15th Missouri regiment of cavalry U. S. volunteers, and served until the close of the war." (Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner; Prescott; February 10, 1892; page 3.) James G. Davidson's first enlistment was in the 26th Regiment Enrolled Missouri Militia, on April 4, 1862. Although he was a resident of Cedar County, he enlisted in Polk County. He served until March 1, 1863. The 15th Regiment, Missouri Cavalry, was organized on November 1, 1863, then was active until July of 1865. This regiment was involved in scout and patrol duties and participated in several engagements. A person named James G. Davidson (there were 2; the other man used another name) enlisted as a private on November 1, 1863, then was mustered out as a corporal on July 9, 1865. His younger brothers, William Davidson, age 21, and Thomas Davidson, age 16, volunteered in this regiment.

The 1870 Census, Head of Household Index, Washington Township, Cedar County, Missouri, lists #111, Jas. G. Davidson, age 40, a farmer, born in Tennessee. James G. and Eliza Davidson lived with their children, Henry F., James G., Margaret R., Hettie, Mary L. and Eliza J.

A letter from Charlie Buster, who had wandered out west and traveled to Arizona Territory arrived during the fall of 1874. He wrote a glowing account of the Salt River Valley area. Preston Burford, who knew Charlie well, read the letter and decided to move to Arizona. Another man, who had been in the Army and stationed at Camp Verde, returned to Missouri and described the Verde Valley as a place "where th' grass grew up t' th' horses' bellies and where streams were flowing all over th' place." People who decided to move to Arizona Territory with the Preston Burford, "Parson" James C. Bristow and James Human families included the families of: James Davidson, Samuel C. Dickinson, "Brother" Lett, Michael K. Gaddis, Nicodemus Hutcheson, Pankey, Parker, Stackhouse, Waggner/Wagner, and Morris Smith. After they were on their way, they were joined by the families of "Tommy" Smith, William Pleasant "Pleas" Bristow and William Hawkins. The group was composed of slightly over 50 people.

Because the families lived in different settlements, some left their homes as early as April 26, 1875. They gathered near Humansville, left there on May 10, then met on May 11 to begin their long journey to the Verde Valley. After a dispute about roads in New Mexico, the families of William Hawkins, "Parson" Bristow and James Human traveled the northern route with their herds of cattle and the horses, then finally spent the night of August 16 at the Wales Arnold Ranch. Preston Burford led the rest of the ox-drawn wagon train on the southern route; they arrived at the Wales Arnold Ranch on August 23. The Gaddis and Lett families had stopped to rest a few days, then traveled with a wagon train from Arkansas, camping near what would become McGuireville on August 28. (A Sketch of the History of My Traveling from Southwest Missouri to Arizona; by James Clawson Bristow; October 5, 1909; manuscript; pages 1-8: Pioneer Stories of Arizona's Verde Valley; 1933, 1954; The Verde Pioneers Association; pages 22, 58, 130, 194: and Following Their Westward Star; by F. Ruth Jordan; 2005; pages 8-9, etc.)

In the Verde Valley: James Davidson, age 46, born in Tennessee is #145; Josiah Roberts, age 43, born in Missouri, is #146; John Roberts, age 32, born in Missouri, is #132; and Jackson A. Thompson, age 56, born in Kentucky, is #133; on the 1875 Great Register of Yavapai County.

John Marksberry, who came to the Verde Valley in August of 1877, explained their relationship. He wrote: "My first job was making and laying 'dobies for my board for Uncle Jackie Thompson. Uncle Jackie was a brother to Grandma Roberts, an uncle of John Roberts and Mrs. Jim Davidson. Two 'dobie houses I helped build are still standing on the 'Wines Place.'" (Pioneer Stories of Arizona's Verde Valley; pages 128, 130.)

The 1880 Census lists James Davidson and Eliza Davidson with Henry T., James, Margaret R., Hattie L., Jane, Mary, Noney, and William.

James G. Davidson "moved with his family from Missouri to Arizona and settled in the Verde valley, where he has lived ever since. He has helped to take out several irrigating ditches in the valley, owned and run the only threshing machine or grain separator in Yavapai county for several years. In all his dealings he was fair and square, and no man ever went to Mr. Davidson for an accommodation but he received it if he could possibly render it."

"About four years ago he became afflicted with an eating cancer on the left side of his neck. Two years ago he went to the eastern States and visited several cancer doctors, but none seemed to do him any good. For the last two years he has been almost constantly in his bed."

"From his trip east and other expenses he became in somewhat straightened circumstances financially. At the solicitation of the writer and other friends he allowed his name to be sent to the commissioner of pensions for a pension under the new law. His name was sent in on the 8th of July 1891, and on the 20th day of January, 1892, his pension was granted at the rate of $12 per month, dating from the 20th of July, 1891, the certificate being number 704,270. The certificate arrived on the evening of the 2d, and he died the next morning at 5 o'clock. But he had already been summoned to his last roll call, which he knew, and faced it manfully, as he did all his terrible suffering."

"In his death the people of the Verde valley lose a good neighbor, and the county and territory a good citizen. He leaves a wife and seven children --- two sons and five daughters --- all grown except one boy 12 years of age."

"The family feels very grateful to their neighbors and friends for the many kind acts to the deceased and them during his long sickness and suffering. May he rest in peace." ... "H.W.G."

(Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner; Prescott; February 10, 1892; page 3.)

Eliza Davidson, the wife of James G. Davidson, received a land patent on November 10, 1897, for property her husband had claimed at Middle Verde. This homestead contained 40 acres and is located with most of the land on the northern side, plus some land on the southern side of the Verde River. Her neighbor on the east was Alonzo Bristo.

JAMES GORDON DAVIDSON is the son of William Davidson, born about 1805, who married Hettie C. Francis (both were born in Wayne County Kentucky). They became the parents of James Gordon and Peggy Margaret, born in Fentress County, Tennessee about 1832. After the family moved to Missouri, it grew with the births of: Henry (1836), Tursey E. (1837), William C. (1841; who married Martha Jane Hornbeck on March 5, 1861) and Thomas (1846). James G. Davidson died at his home on February 3, 1892, and is buried in the Middle Verde Cemetery.

ELIZABETH "ELIZA" JANE ROBERTS was born in Missouri March 10, 1837 or March 27, 1839. She is the only daughter of Josiah (born in Illinois) and Elizabeth (Thompson) Roberts (born in Tennessee), who were also the parents of several sons, including John and Josiah Roberts. Eliza Davidson died in Yavapai County on January 31, 1924, and is buried in the Middle Verde Cemetery. Her daughter, Mrs. Frank Dickison of Camp Verde signed the Certificate of Death.

James and "Eliza" Davidson are the parents of several children born in Missouri:

HENRY FRANCIS DAVIDSON was born on November 3, 1860, or November 5, 1868. Henry Davidson claimed land and had cattle at what would later be known as the Finnie Ranch. He sold the land and cattle to the James Oliver Bristow family before 1881. (Pioneer Stories of Arizona's Verde Valley; page 56.)

MARGARET R. "ARENTHA" or "ARINTHA" DAVIDSON was born on January 10, 1864. "Arintha Elizabeth Davidson" married "James Richard Eshill" on September 4, 1879. (1865-1928 Marriage Licenses/Certificates; Yavapai County; page 103.) James R. Estell, age 23, born in Missouri, is #134 on the 1875 Great Register of Yavapai County. The 1880 Census lists James R. Estell with J. R. Estell (page 459), and Arintha Estell is listed with her sister, Mary Davidson (page 415A). "Arintha Estell" married "A. B. Hutcheson" on November 13, 1888. (1865-1928 Marriage Licenses/Certificates; page 210.)

HETTIE (Harriette) "ELVIRA" or "ALVISA" or "ALVENA" DAVIDSON was born on February 25, 1865 or February 28, 1866. She was 18 years old when she married Charles Morris on March 20, 1887. They became the parents of 4 children. After Charles died, the widow, Hettie (Davidson) Morris, married Lewis "Lew" Turner on November 9, 1891. They became the parents of 9 children. (see: The Verde Independent: "1890: CAMP VERDE; Charles Morris died of Hydrophobia on June 19;" June 19, 2014.)

ELIZABETH "ELIZA" JANE DAVIDSON was born on June 25, 1867. She was a widow when she died as Mrs. Eliza Jane Williams living at 440 S. Montezuma Street in Prescott on December 7, 1919. She is buried in Citizens Cemetery.

MARY L. DAVIDSON was born on April 30, 1869. Mary Davidson married James William Muse on March 5, 1899. (1865-1928 Marriage Licenses/Certificates; page 331.) Mary, age 44, the wife of James Muse, born in Iowa, age 42, gave birth to their 13th living child, Eugene Clifford Muse, in Phoenix on November 17, 1922. Mary (Davidson) Muse Hawn, a widow, died at home in Phoenix on November 18, 1956. She is buried in the Middle Verde Cemetery.

After the Davidson family arrived in the Verde Valley, James and "Eliza" became the parents of:

NONA "NONEY" ELLEN DAVIDSON was born in the wagon bed on October 5, 1875. Nona Davidson married Franklin Theodore Dickison on November 27, 1895. He is the son of William Goff and Hannah Elizabeth (West) Dickison. He was born in Texas on March 28, 1868. The 1920 Census of Camp Verde includes Franklin T. Dickison (47), and Nona E. Dickison (44), with Walter L. (20), Earl F. (18), Albert I. (17), Osion L. (15), Stella (11), and Robert L. Dickison (49). Franklin died on April 27, 1926, and is buried in the Middle Verde Cemetery. Nona Ellen Dickison died in the Yavapai County Hospital on July 16, 1953, and is buried in the Middle Verde Cemetery.

WILLIAM JACKSON DAVIDSON was born in the Verde Valley on March 23 or 28, 1878. He married Frances Warfel and they lived in Camp Verde for awhile.

JOHN ROBERTS was born in Missouri on December 2, 1844. He was an unmarried farmer when he died in Prescott on January 23, 1928. He is buried in the Middle Verde Cemetery.

JACKSON A. THOMPSON, the brother of Elizabeth (Thompson) Roberts, "Grandma Roberts," was in the Verde Valley in 1875. Jacky Thompson is buried in plot 34 in the Squaw Peak Cemetery.

(Information from: Sharlot Hall Museum Library and Archives,, Certificates of Death, Certificates of Birth.)

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